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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Last of the gothic greats?
There are many candidates for the last truly great DOCTOR WHO story in its original run. Some might say the show never had any greatness at all, others might believe that they every single episode is a masterpiece, but for me, IMAGE OF THE FENDAHL might be one of the last of the true greats, the last hiccup of gothic horror carried over from the previous year that had...
Published on 19 April 2009 by Emanon

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An Ancient Skull, A Secret Cult, Mad Scientists, A Creepy Mansion & Slimy Monsters!!!!
Yet another Gothic style Baker story - this perhaps does not reach the same heights as Horror Of Fang Rock, Talons Of Weng Chiang and certainly not Pyramids Of Mars but is still easily the best of the current releases.
There's good atmosphere, effective sets and in terms of available resources some reasonable FX. Tom Baker is walking on water here with great use of...
Published on 2 May 2009 by Adam Jackson


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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Last of the gothic greats?, 19 April 2009
This review is from: Doctor Who - Image of the Fendahl [DVD] [1977] (DVD)
There are many candidates for the last truly great DOCTOR WHO story in its original run. Some might say the show never had any greatness at all, others might believe that they every single episode is a masterpiece, but for me, IMAGE OF THE FENDAHL might be one of the last of the true greats, the last hiccup of gothic horror carried over from the previous year that had ended with TALONS OF WENG CHIANG, and if it isn't the last great story, then surely, at least, it's first episode, is up there amongst the greatest openers.
Mad scientists working in a spooky old priory, unseen aliens from ancient history tampering with human evolution, strange ritualistic covens and an enemy that is described as "death itself" all feature in a story that is more about its characters than any sci-fi trappings. There's an acknowledged hint of Nigel Kneale in there, it has to be said, but that really is never a bad thing.
The main cast - a small, tight little unit of great character actors - are all on tremendous form and never play the script without conviction, even when faced with a "monster" that, whilst not being truly awful, does leave something to be desired, and Martha Tyler (no relation!) is a star.
The audio commentary is fun - not least because of the pairing of Tom Baker and Louise Jameson alongside Edward Arthur and Wanda Ventham, and the production subtitles are as informative and well researched as ever. There's a fun little easter egg, some (low res) deleted scenes, a trailer from those faraway BBC days, and a pretty good "making of" documentary, amongst others.
As ever, releases from this DVD range are put together with a lot of care, and IMAGE OF THE FENDAHL retains those very high standards.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The last genuinely scary Dr Who story, 8 July 2009
This review is from: Doctor Who - Image of the Fendahl [DVD] [1977] (DVD)
There's something about Image of the Fendahl that still un-nerves me after all these years. There's a real feeling of foreboding and suppressed terror to it and it is often extremely atmospheric. I also feel it's one of the most 'adult' of all Who stories, it never talks down to the audience, it deals with some pretty heavy themes (a character committing suicide/devil worship) and must have given kids some nightmares on first transmission. It's also quite funny in places, but the humour doesn't detract from the drama or horror. Tom Baker is at his strangest, and the fact that the Doctor himself appears terrified of the Fendahl makes the story more gripping. There is some excellently atmospheric location filming, unusually most of it at night which adds to the spookiness, the monsters are unpleasantly grotesque (think big slugs with tentacles for mouths) and some convincing performances from a great little cast. The script may borrow a little from the ideas of Nigle Kneale, but then most Dr Who borrows from other sources anyway. For my money, Image of the Fendahl is one of the scariest and most genuinely 'gothic' stories in the series history, and gets better upon repeated viewings. Brilliant title too. Some great extras on this DVD, plus having Tom Baker on the commentary usually makes a DVD worth buying for that reason alone.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An Ancient Skull, A Secret Cult, Mad Scientists, A Creepy Mansion & Slimy Monsters!!!!, 2 May 2009
By 
Adam Jackson (Stoke On Trent , England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Doctor Who - Image of the Fendahl [DVD] [1977] (DVD)
Yet another Gothic style Baker story - this perhaps does not reach the same heights as Horror Of Fang Rock, Talons Of Weng Chiang and certainly not Pyramids Of Mars but is still easily the best of the current releases.
There's good atmosphere, effective sets and in terms of available resources some reasonable FX. Tom Baker is walking on water here with great use of balanced humour, good adlibbing and real chemistry with Louise Jameson who looks VERY fetching in this story! All the actors are well cast here actually, and the show is refreshingly free of some of the hammy acting that often afflicts supporting Who cast members.
Yes, there is a strong Quatermass & The Pit influence, as well as Peter Cushing horror pictures such as The Creeping Flesh and Horror Express in terms of ancient evil with a scientific origin.
Lots's of dark corridors, white lab coats & 70's style scientific equipment to boot, also recalling The Island Of Terror again with Cushing.
The Fendalheen creatures weren't too bad actually - the giant ones were nowhere near as poor as say the myrrkha in Warriors Of The Deep, and the smaller ones were at least as good as those creepy maggots in The Green Death.
There was one great scene early on that reminded me of the black & white Curse Of The Demon with Dana Andrews, where a character is pursued by an evil presence in fog cloaked woodlands - very atmospheric. The actual exterior location is the same as in Pyramids Of Mars, I think.
The only factors that deny 5 stars are that firstly the Fendahl have a slightly muddled back story, and I personally felt the ending was a little underwhelming. What I did like was the twists involved such as bad guys that turn out to not really be the bad guys etc. Also the DVD is a bit on the light side extras wise. The documentary is a bit short and lacking in technical detail as well as any sort of contribution from Tom B himself - still Louise Jameson does her best to compensate.+
So really 4 stars for the story itself, with one knocked off for slightly dissapointing DVD extras compared to other releases.
Oh, and look out for Coronation Street's Don Brennan!
Definitely one for people who like 'Gothic Who' as well as Quatermass and 70s TV classics like Children Of The Stones...
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars goodbye to gothic, 1 May 2009
By 
Paul Tapner (poole dorset england) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Doctor Who - Image of the Fendahl [DVD] [1977] (DVD)
After three hugely popular years as the doctor in stories that were full of gothic horror, tom baker's era changed. budget cuts and pressure to reduce the onscreen horror and violence left a new producer having to change things somewhat.

But Tom Baker's fourth season in the role did contain this story, a script originally commissioned during those earlier years, and as a result it's pretty much the last attempt at gothic horror they mounted.

On present day earth [as of the year of transmission] the tardis arrives in the british countryside near a country priory where scientists are conducting expermients on an ancient skull.

With dark forces lurking and horrible things happening to a hitch hiker, the fate of the world is at stake...

But whilst this is in the style of those three successful years it's not quite as strong as the best stories from them. The doctor takes a while to get involved in things and the plot doesn't really click till the end of part three. and then it stands or falls on the realisation of some monsters that you will have to suspend your disbelief for.

But the cast all play it totally seriously, it never slips into camp humour, and the production values whilst cheap are perfectly decent. This is a long way from being the best that the show has to offer but it's a little above average and not a bad watch at all.

There's not much on the dvd extras wise:

a commentary from tom baker and louise jameson, who played his companion leela, plus wanda ventham and edward arthur who play characters in the story.

after image: a twenty five minute long documentary about the making of the story. There's not quite as much detail of the shoot as I would have liked - apart from an interesting piece about a letter they had to send to mick jagger as a result of it - but it's a very good documentary and there are some good anecdotes and interviews in it.

deleted and extended scenes contains eleven minutes worth of these. although they come from an old and poor quality tape and a result the picture quality isn't great. most arte just long versions of scenes involving characters getting from one point to another and thus the deleted bits are people walking around or in and out of buildings so you can see why they were cut. There is one good moment for supporting character ted moss, though.

trailer: is the original bbc trailer for the story from 1977, which was broadcast right after the end of the preceding story. It's short but interesting.

viewable as PDF files, which you can look at if you view the disc on a computer, are the radio times listings for the story.

there's a photo gallery of shots from the story and it's production

production information subtitles which can be displayed while watching the story and give information about it.

a trailer for the next dvd release in the range: the deadly assassin. this story is as good as the trailer makes it look, but be aware that if you've not seen it and don't know anything about the plot it will give one key fact away.

for an easter egg, watch this on a computer and move the pointer over the left side of the screen till a doctor who logo lights up. click on this to see a short segment presumably cut from the documentary, with louise jameson talking about one of the worst bits of doctor who merchandise ever. it's well worth watching.

the disc has audio navigation and english is the only language tracka dn subtitles.

so just like the story, this release as a whole isn't the best in the range, but it's not bad and it's worth getting
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Last Ghost of Gothic, 2 Aug. 2014
By 
Number13 (England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Doctor Who - Image of the Fendahl [DVD] [1977] (DVD)
`Image of the Fendahl' was the last story in the legendary Gothic era of `Doctor Who'. It has all the elements of a classic of this period but I'm not at all sure that it is. 4* with reservations.

In ancient and creepy Fetch Priory, deep in the modern-day English countryside, four scientists are delving into the mysteries of the origins of humanity. They have discovered a skull which is 12 million years old, many times older than the first of our species - so who (or what) is it?

Two of the scientists are English and very posh, the other two are German and at least one of them is very mad, although this isn't obvious at first (the mad part). Dr. Fendelman (Denis Lill) has made a vast fortune from electronics and is spending it on his pet research project. He built and used a `sonic time scanner' to locate the skull in Africa and brought it back to his base where he is studying it with apparently loyal assistant Max (Scott Fredericks). But Max secretly dreams that "I shall be a god!" In fact, the real villain is elsewhere, manipulating those around it ...

The `sonic time scanner' sets off major time ripples that hit the TARDIS, bringing the Doctor and Leela (new short hair, very short new costume) down to Earth in a field of cows to investigate. If the scanner isn't stopped before (a suspiciously round) 100 hours of operation it will cause "a direct continuum implosion" and suck the Earth into nothingness. Top-quality performances from Tom Baker and Louise Jameson once again, Leela is right at home in the dangerous, haunted atmosphere of Fetch Priory, knife in hand and ready for anything. Unfortunately they are kept slightly out of the story for long periods, including a tension-sapping side trip to the asteroid belt halfway through. And the tension is also sucked out of the time-scanner implosion sub-plot when the Doctor (quite reasonably) just flicks the off-switch with lots of spare time left!

They have landed in present-day rural England (circa 1980) so (to put it mildly) it's a surprise to find all the villagers are quite so `oo-arrr'. If the story was set a century earlier, then all the Mummerset-voiced locals and talk of "the old ways", covens, rock salt and "Mother" Tyler the kindly Wise Woman might have seemed slightly less patronising. Really, rural England wasn't at all like that in the 1980s (or even the 1880s I suppose!) Being positive, let's assume the `time fissure' running through eerie Fetch Wood has not only given Mrs. Tyler her second sight but somehow `held back' the locals from the modern world. I want to be positive because Mrs. Tyler is brilliantly played by Daphne Heard and her cheery grandson Jack (Geoffrey Hinsliff) and their bonding with Leela (who's also from a world of `old religion') are the best part of the story. They are well written and superbly acted although as characters incongruously out of their time, but with nice tea and fruitcake for their guests. They also carry magic charms and a shotgun, but then so might anyone living in a cottage in Fetch Wood!

Back at the Priory, pleasant English scientists Adam (Edward Arthur) and Thea (Wanda Ventham) are rather out of the loop and out of their depth. Adam seems to be in the story mostly to give the Doctor an extra companion to talk to when Leela is off in action with the Tylers. Adam appears to have an understandable attraction to eye-catching Thea, but any romance is doomed from the start. Thea as a person barely exists in the story, she is sinking deep into alien possession from the very beginning and there is worse to come ...

Enter the Fendahl, slowly at first, stalking hikers through the darkness of the wood at night before bursting onto the scene in the final episode. It's a complex idea of a gestalt or group monster, made up of 12 `Fendahleen' and the golden Core. Thea's transformation into the Core is a superb and quite chilling variant on an ancient myth, a golden Medusa, beautiful but evil and fatal to look upon. The `Fendahleen' are unfortunately less successful. Costs meant that only one full-size monster was built and although Mrs. Tyler memorably describes her vision of it as "hungry for my soul!" it looks more hungry for her cabbages. The DVD features and commentary describe 15 minutes of laughter when the cast first encountered it. It's not that bad, but would have been more effective if made less visible...

The model `baby' Fendahleen work far better, like particularly sinister little cobras. There is a bizarre moment when Thea collapses in a golden glow and two baby Fendahleen monsters appear sitting on her body. Bizarre, because it's effectively done and a dramatic moment, which everyone then seems to forget about within five minutes, including Thea's assumed boyfriend Adam, whose next scenes with Thea are mostly spent worrying about a disconnected telephone!

If the Fendahleen aren't scary to look at, the wonderfully dark Priory sets and the extensive night filming in misty Fetch Wood create an ambience of lurking, ghostly shadows matched by few other `Doctor Who' stories. Excellent lighting, and direction by George Spenton-Foster lay on the Gothic gloom to full effect. The effects in the last episode (apart from the Fendahleen) are excellent, the ghostly golden Core showing the way this story should have gone with its monsters - less substantial and as a result more frightening.

So parts of the story are patchy and parts of the monster are disappointing, but the acting, sets and filming are excellent and `Image of the Fendahl' still generates Gothic atmosphere in plenty. I saw the original broadcast, read the novelisation, bought the VHS and now the DVD - so I keep coming back to Fetch Priory, which is very curious because I'm always vaguely underwhelmed by this tale and enjoy it less than I think I should. Perhaps I too am being manipulated by the Fendahl? Let's hope not... 4*

The DVD Special Features are few in number but very good and add to the release.
An enjoyable commentary, some nice anecdotes from Tom Baker, Louise Jameson, Edward Arthur and Wanda Ventham.
`After Image' is an excellent `making of' feature with a great set of contributors - Louise Jameson and Colin Mapson (Visual Effects) are especially interesting.
`Deleted and Extended Scenes' - from a low-quality copy of the location filming, but interesting to fans.
A fun little Easter Egg.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars After Image, 18 July 2014
This review is from: Doctor Who - Image of the Fendahl [DVD] [1977] (DVD)
This is one of the most creepiest and chilling stories I've come across in `Doctor's Who's history.

`Image of the Fendhal' was the third story shown in Tom Baker's fourth season of `Doctor Who'. It was also the third story from Graham Williams' first season as producer of the series. At the time of this story, a period of transition was hanging in the air of `Doctor Who'. It was to be the last gothic horror adventure during Tom Baker's time in the series as plans were made to make the show more light-hearted and less violent. This was to mark the end of Robert Holmes' time as script editor and his era of gothic horror in this series. New script editor Anthony Reed was to come in and take the reins of handling the stories of Graham Williams' new era for the series.

The story was commissioned by Robert Holmes from writer Chris Boucher, who had previously penned the first two Leela stories 'The Face Of Evil' and 'The Robots of Death'. This story is one creepy and chilling adventure that even though I don't fully understand the story entirely, it was a disturbing all the same. I did find that the story was rather slow-paced in places, especially in the first half containing the first two episodes where things are setting up for the characters; the situation and the environment. But the story progressed and got more interesting by the time it was halfway already, and the adventure with the Doctor and Leela proved to be pretty exciting and worthy to enjoy afterwards.

The Doctor and Leela discover an sonic time scan in the TARDIS and trace back to Earth in the present day. In the story, four scientists at a priory in Fetchborough are studying a human skull that was found from a volcano and discover it is twelve million years old. When performing experiments on it, something strange happens as the skull glows brightly and seem to be taking control of Thea Ransome's (one of the scientists) mind. Connecting this to an old Time Lord nightmare legend, the Doctor soon discovers it is the Fendahl and he and Leela have to stop it before it takes control of the Earth and homes on everybody's fears.

There are influences of cults and religious beliefs occurring in the Northern rural parts of England, especially with this story taking place on Lammas Eve which is a wheat harvest festival derived from Anglo-Saxon times and also with Ma Tyler's beliefs and her charms. A cult led by Max Stael form their beliefs in the Fendahl and they conduct a ceremonial ritual to bring the Fendahl to life. I don't fully understand these rituals and religious beliefs, but they're fascinating and interesting from the characters and atmosphere of the story.

I've had the DVD cover signed by Louise Jameson who plays Leela, the Doctor's savage companion. I met Louise at a convention in Swansea when I asked her to sign this for me, and have since then met her a many more conventions afterwards. I like Louise and have had a great time chatting to her at conventions whether it's during signings or mingling. I've chatted to Louise about her character Leela and how she puts so much into her performance in many of the stories she's done. I've discovered how there's a different in approaching Leela from the Phillip Hinchcliffe era to the Graham Williams era, since Leela was supposed to have the Doctor teaching her about things and not to be savage. It's not so evident in this story as well as the first Graham Williams season she's in. But Louise does a tremendous job playing Leela and it's an interesting character to play as it's a companion who's savage.

Leela in this story does have some nice moments in this story. It's not a great story for developing her character, but there's some nice moments. Leela gets to wear a new costume that still makes her scantily dressed in the story. She also gets her hair in a bun which is quite unusual, but this due to the hairdresser cutting too much of Louise's hair short during the making of this story. I like it when Leela refers to K-9 as `he' compared to the Doctor who calls him `it' initially in the story. Leela gets to save the Doctor from a skull burning his hand in `Part Three' by pushing the stool underneath him. I like Leela forming a connection to dear old Martha Tyler, since she respects old age and accepts the charm she's given to her by the old lady. I found it funny when Leela after firing at the Fendahl in `Part Four' gets picked up and checked by the Doctor to see if she's already before he drops her to the floor again. She's annoyed and it's clearly shown on her face.

Tom Baker as the Doctor is at the top of his game in this story. By this point, Tom has really settling into the part and has really taken on the role of the Doctor with great abundance and energy. I really like that moment when Tom's Doctor discovers the skull at the end of `Part Two' and offers it a jelly baby. It was so funny. As if a skull would say `yes' to having one of the Doctor's jelly babies. Of course the Doctor should know better not to touch the skull when it's glowing red hot. I kept shouting at the screen, "Don't touch it, Doctor! Don't touch the skull!" But would he listen? No. Ha, ha. Also the Doctor's relationship with Leela has improved over the stories they've been together. There's still a hint of friction between Tom and Louise during their working relationship in the series. But it seems to have mellowed by this point, and the two work well together as the Doctor and companion team during the mid-1970s.

K-9 only appears at the beginning and end of the story, so doesn't have a big part to play. The Doctor and Leela have only just taken him aboard following 'The Invisible Enemy'. But at least Tom's Doctor called K-9 `he' instead of `it' and the metal dog would have it made up to him in the following story.

The guest cast includes Wanda Ventham who plays Thea Ransome, the female scientist in the four at the priory. Wanda has appeared in `Doctor Who' before in `The Faceless Ones' and would later appear again in `Time and the Rani'. Wanda plays Thea who is a character working with three other men on a human skull and conducting experiments on it. But the skull seems to have locked itself onto her and she gets caught in a trance whenever it glows or a scan commences. Thea becomes frightened when she senses the skull is playing with her mind, and it doesn't bode well for her especially when she's chosen for the ceremony and becomes the Fendahl Core, a golden woman controlling the Fendahl. Now I found the Fendahl golden woman very scary and Wanda gives a tremendously unnerving performance when she becomes golden, and it's somebody she's especially wanted to play since being denied being in `Goldfinger', the James Bond film.

There's also Adam Colby, played by Edward Arthur, who's probably the youngest of the male scientists at the priory. Adam seems sceptical and sardonic at times making wisecracks throughout this story. But Adam has this good heart; a sense of compassion about him and a sense of humour that's masked by a tough edge. I like it when the story starts and he talks to the skull rather ruefully; "Well don't just sit there, Eustace! Say something!" Now that's what you do when you got a skull in the room. You talk to it. I like the relationship between Adam and Thea, as he seems fond of; has a growing crush and really cares for her. Thea likes Adam too, but it's not in the same way as he would like it as she treats him in a sisterly-brotherly manner. I liked it when Leela gives him a peck on the cheek which was sweet and unexpected. Also he challenges Max on what he's doing in this Fendahl ritual and shares a scientific eagerness with both Fendelman and the Doctor.

The remaining two scientists include Denis Lill playing Dr. Fendelman, who could almost be the villain and has a deeper scientific knowledge about the human skull than anybody else does. He places security guards throughout the house in the story when a number of deaths occur. He also reveals a disturbing point about his name when it's `Fendelman' or `man of the Fendahl'. I found that moment terrifying when he declares screaming to Max pointing a gun at him, "I have been used! MANKIND HAS BEEN USED!!!"

And there's Scott Fredericks playing Max Stael, who previously appeared in `Doctor Who' before in `Day of the Daleks'. Max is a man who rarely smiles but does seem smug. He's in charge of a cult who believe in the Fendahl and shows his true colours when he gags Thea with a chloroform and points a gun at Adam and Fendelman. He wants to be a god and Adam and Fendelman can't understand why he's doing this other than he's doing. He gets his own just desserts when he looks at the Fendahl woman and commits suicide.

The rest of the supporting characters include Daphne Heard, who does a marvellous performance as old lady Martha Tyler or Ma Tyler who loves her charms and has her beliefs in the other worldliness. There's also Geoffrey Hinsliff playing Jack Tyler, who is Ma Tyler's grandson in the story. There's Edward Evans playing Ted Moss, one of the cult members involved with Max's evil doings. And there's Derek Martin, playing a tough and rough security man called David Mitchell. Derek is well known for playing Charlie Slater in `Eastenders' and has been in two `Doctor Who' stories before this including `The Web of Fear' and `The Ambassadors of Death'. I've had the pleasure of meeting Derek at a convention in Weston-super-Mare recently and he also signed the DVD cover of this story for me. He said "Hello, boss!" to me when I met him. Never been called that before, ha, ha.

Apart from the golden glowing Thea as the Fendahl Core which was scary, I found the actual Fendahl monsters rather disappointing. They look pathetic and seemed to be like lumbering snake-like monsters with spaghetti-like tendrils from its mouth. Some of these Fendahl monsters such as the small Fendahleen are actually puppets which was interesting. The look of these monsters looks rather daft and it should be have been more scary and darker compared to the colourful appearance we got from these creatures. So not the best looking `Doctor Who' monster in my opinion.

The special features for the `Image of the Fendahl' DVD are as follows. There's a making-of documentary called `After Image' with behind-the-scenes interviews from Louise Jameson; Edward Arthur; Wanda Ventham; script editor Anthony Reed and visual effects designer Colin Mapson. There's also some deleted and extended scenes from this story; as well as a BBC1 trailer for the first episode and a photo gallery for the story. There's an Easter Egg to look out for on the first Special Features page on this disc.

There's an entertaining audio commentary from Tom Baker; Louise Jameson; Wanda Ventham and Edward Arthur discussing their thoughts on `Image of the Fendahl'; as well as info text option commentary to watch during the story. There's also a PDF document containing the Radio Times Listings for this story as well as Coming Soon trailer for the next DVD release 'The Deadly Assassin'.

This has been one eerie and creepy story from the Tom Baker era of `Doctor Who'. `Image of the Fendahl' is the last in a long line of gothic adventures with the Fourth Doctor and an enjoyable one with him and Leela, played by Louise Jameson. I found it fascinating and an intriguing adventure. It's slow-paced at first, but gets more exciting later on.

The next story with the Doctor and Leela is 'The Sun Makers'.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fruitcake, 17 Jun. 2013
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This review is from: Doctor Who - Image of the Fendahl [DVD] [1977] (DVD)
Phillip Hinchcliffe was out, Graham Williams was in, and Robert Holmes retained, for a while, and with stories like this - edited by Holmes and penned by his padawan learner, Chris Boucher, you'd hardly notice the difference.

There are four scientists in this house, and by the end of the story, only one will be left alive, just one - and it's the immensely likable Adam Colby, beautifully played by Edward Arthur - I wonder what happened to him.

The acting really carries this; the neat little ensemble cast really do shoulder the tale and run with it. It's hard to see what could have gone wrong - Dennis Lill, Scott Fredericks, Wanda Ventham as the other three scientists, and Geof Hinsliff as a little man with a hat and a shotgun. The scene where he makes friends with Leela is a delight to watch - in the midst of all this sinister madness about a prehistoric skull and a hole in time, two humans born worlds and centuries apart, just click. It's lovely.

And as if it couldn't get any better, Daphne Heard (just check her out as the senile nanny in Upstairs Downstairs - I know... but do it anyway) rises head and shoulders over the rest. As Louise Jameson says in The Making Of, 'An actress who really knew how to serve a text'. No mean praise from someone of Miss Jameson's standing.

It's as if (and I hope Mr Boucher will pardon the suggestion) the writer had watched Dr Who do Dennis Wheatley in The Daemons, and decided now to do HP Lovecraft, and instead of Damaris Hayman's brilliant and birdlike Miss Hawthorne, we get Daphne Heard as the dumpy, grumpy Granny Tyler.

Give the script its due; it's hard not to look at an old woman after someone's just threatened to set a dog on her, but by gum Granny hits back with 'Ain't a dog born that'd go for me, boy. They've got more sense than most people'. It's worth buying the DVD just to see this pitch-perfect performance. 'One day John, I'm going to be getting too old for all this'.

The plot is hokum, but so well constructed and delivered that it's quite palatable, with disbelief quite happily suspended - these are normal people, they argue about dinner, ride bicycles, own (vanishing) dogs named 'Leakey', so of course the skull must be real.

The VFX aren't great; the implosion fits where it touches, and the two baby Fendahleen are quite dodgy, though the full size version looks very good, and it doesn't seem to matter that there really is only one of them, because the fourth episode runs at such a clip that it's easy to believe that there's getting on for a dozen, and in any case it's the transformed Thea that's the really scary thing by then.

The Fifth Planet thing in Episode 3 is fairly flagrant padding, but that's forgivable as the rest of the story works so well, and the omission of K-9 (because they didn't know if they were keeping him or not) is a bit obvious, but the story is a triumph.

'The corpse; it's decomposing almost as you look at it'.

Brilliant.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Image of the Fendahl, 9 Sept. 2010
By 
R. Thomas "unreadable" (S Wales) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Doctor Who - Image of the Fendahl [DVD] [1977] (DVD)
Coming at the tail end of Who's horror/gothic period this story ends the period in style. Previous stories had the odd scary monster or alien but this story goes furthest into horror as its pretty much a ghost story. A ghostly skull, mad scientist, cultist local and a spooky mansion add to an atmospheric and very quotable story. Staring Tom Baker as The Doctor and Louise Jameson as the savage Leela make a wonderful central pairing as they playfully bounce off each other.

The extra's are all strong, a look back at the making of the story. A commentary which is a tad rambly featuring Tom, Louise, Wanda Ventham and Edward Arther (who puts in one of my favourite performances). Increased sound & picture quality and deleted scenes round this DVD off nicely. A must purchase for Who and Horror fans.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Jelly Baby, 31 Mar. 2012
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S J Buck (Kent, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Doctor Who - Image of the Fendahl [DVD] [1977] (DVD)
For me this is in the 2nd tier of Dr Who episodes. Its good, in fact very good in places, but its not up there with The Daemons, Talons of WC, or Genesis of the Daleks, hence I haven't given it 5 stars.

That said its captures Tom Baker in fine form in what was probably the last of the gothic Dr Who stories from his time. The lovely Leela is his assistant and K9 makes a brief cameo appearance as well.

The story is interesting, the special effects inevitably look a little silly/dated now but it has a magic that is missing from quite a few of the modern Dr Who stories.

Like a lot of the Tom Baker DVDs its available at a very good price now, and I'm glad I bought it. I feel a 2nd viewing coming up....
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic, 8 May 2009
This review is from: Doctor Who - Image of the Fendahl [DVD] [1977] (DVD)
From still the best Dr Who era. This story as I remembered it from 1977 was atmospheric with a gripping story line. And the Fendaleen eyes freaked me out back then. Even now it's still has an effect.
If only the modern series was this good again.
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Doctor Who - Image of the Fendahl [DVD] [1977]
Doctor Who - Image of the Fendahl [DVD] [1977] by George Spenton-Foster (DVD - 2009)
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